Struggling toward a shortened PolOps chapter

2021-10-24

in PhD thesis, Writing

As an organizational and accountability mechanism, I am going to post more often about the progress of my work on the dissertation.

At present I am working on three immediate tasks:

  1. Producing a version of my 68-page political opportunities chapter that fits in 50 pages (maybe even shorter eventually because some much longer chapters also need to be cut to 50)
  2. Assembling all the outstanding comments from my two active committee members into a single document based on the latest draft (merging them from two Word documents and a set of written comments, taking into account how things have been altered and moved around since the comments were made)
  3. Moving my preliminary LaTeX draft of a new normative conclusions chapter into the Word file for the emerging 300 page draft, and developing it into more of a chapter, including by pulling normative conclusions from the political opportunities, mobilizing structures, repertoires, and framing chapters

I’m feeling acutely aware of being behind my promised timeline, but I have also been experiencing a great deal of mental difficulty finding and maintaining the focus necessary to do such complex tasks. The big challenge comes from how much needs to be simultaneously remembered. I need to not just edit the text at the sentence and paragraph levels, but work on shaping it into a new complete draft with the length and structure desired. That amounts to remembering not only the contents of the old draft and all the comments, but also how things are laid out in the new draft, what is in the background literature, and what is necessary to meet scholarly standards on surveying the extant literature and making an original contribution.

It’s a strange and painful time when my main task is to cut out material which I think is relevant and important, and which I have literally spent years researching and writing. At the same time, I knew all along that the document would need to be put into the format of a dissertation and, furthermore, that a 300 page text will get more attention and engagement than a 717 page one.

P.S. I am up to 2990 km of pandemic walks. The next significant meander I take will put me over the 3000 km mark.

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